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NCDA&CS announces upcoming deadline for emergency watershed protection program

The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has partnered with the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to offer a federal program that is available to assist local governments with emergency watershed recovery projects. The last day to request assistance is Dec. 31.

The department’s Soil and Water Conservation Division received $10 million in funds from the General Assembly to assist communities with recovery from watershed impairments through the Emergency Watershed Protection program. The appropriated funds were based on the anticipated non-federal match required.

As a part of the program, the state has funds to cover the non-federal match if a project is eligible. The NRCS will pay 75 percent of the construction costs of eligible recovery measures through EWP. In some counties (Bladen, Duplin, Greene, Hyde, Jones, Lenoir, Richmond, Robeson, Sampson, Scotland, Washington and Wayne) a waiver has been granted by USDA to increase the federal cost-share rate from 75 percent to 90 percent. NRCS is responsible for determining the eligibility of potential projects.

The complex network of streams, canals and ditches that make up the drainage network in eastern N.C. are critical to protect the people, property and economy of the region.

“In many locations, this drainage network has been significantly affected by vegetative storm debris, stream bank erosion and sediment deposition,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “This is a voluntary option to assist communities with their recovery efforts.  This program is a successful approach to reducing the number of communities that are at risk of flooding in future storm events.”

Local sponsors must be a legal subdivision of state government such as counties, cities, towns, municipalities, drainage districts or soil and water conservation districts.  Local project sponsors are responsible for providing land rights to do repair work; securing necessary permits; accomplishing the installation of work; and performing any necessary operation and maintenance.

EWP assistance is formally requested by writing a letter to the NRCS State Conservationist.  Upon receiving the request, NRCS sends employees to accompany the prospective local sponsor in screening damage sites for eligibility for the program. The eligibility screening begins with the most severe damage in the affected area.

To find out more about EWP in North Carolina, contact your local soil and water conservation district  or call the NRCS State Office at 919-873-2100. Additional information about federal assistance programs, safety tips and updates about USDA’s disaster relief efforts throughout the country can be found at www.usda.gov/disaster or at www.ready.gov.

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